John Stirton, a third-generation yard manager, is to retire from United Auctions at the end of this month.

Scottish livestock auctioneer, United Auctions, said Stirton has a “well-known face” in the market yards of Scotland’s livestock auctioneers for half a century in his role.

He has been in the role of ‘yard manager’ for 30 years.

A presentation to mark his contribution to United Auctions will take place at Stirling Agricultural Centre on Wednesday, November 29, from 2:00p.m for colleagues and customers.

Stirton’s last day at United Auctions as yard manager will be November 30, 2023

Managing director of United Auctions, George Purves, said: “John has been a stalwart of the company in a career that has spanned an incredible half century.

“The board of directors cannot express highly enough our gratitude for the work and unwavering dedication that John has given to United Auctions.

“As we bid farewell to John whose presence and unparalleled ability will be greatly missed, we wish John nothing but success and happiness in his well-deserved retirement.” 

John Stirton

Stirton began working full-time in the yard when he left school at 16-years-old. He worked up to the position of yard manger, and took over the role from his father, at 27.

John Stirton said: “The manager role was bred into me and the three-generation role will never happen in this way again.

“I was learning it from day one and it was all I knew. Over the years, I’ve worked in all three of the Company’s markets in Stirling.

“At five-years-old I was helping my father walk the sheep from the farm up to the market which was in the centre of the town.

“From 1966, I would walk stock from farms into the then new market at Kildean across the fields at Hill O Drip where the Stirling Agricultural Centre now sits.”

Unseen work

Stirton said many do not realise the unseen work it takes to keep the market running and to a high standard of cleanliness, as well as getting the stock accommodated beforehand and removed afterwards.

“My team works long hours to prepare for all of the different sales across the eight centres, especially at this busy back end of the year with very quick turnarounds for daily sales,” he said.

“I’ve enjoyed my career and met a huge amount of lovely people, including customers and hauliers in all parts of the county.

“I’ve got to know farming families over four generations and have worked from Thurso in the north of Scotland to Earl’s Court in London at Smithfield.”

Stirton said getting the younger generation to join and settle into the team was extremely rewarding for him.

“Getting the young guys into the team and training them up to become good at their job has given me satisfaction.

“I’ve enjoyed going to the islands especially and have plenty of fond memories of good fun at different sales over the years. I’m looking forward to more relaxing days in my retirement.”